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BC hospital moving to evict hospice society that refuses to provide assisted suicide

The Fraser Health Authority is moving to evict an end-of-life care facility after it refused to provide assisted suicide services to its patients. 

The Delta Hospice Society has been operating to provide palliative care since the early 1990s and had previously signed a 35-year lease and service agreement with Fraser Health. 

However, last year BC Health Minister Adrian Dix announced that the society would have until February 25, 2021 to clear out the premises and terminate its contract. The decision by the BC government was prompted by a decision by the hospice society’s board of directors to not provide medical assistance in dying to their patients. 

“Our Palliative Care facility refused to offer euthanasia as it is against our medical discipline and standard of care. For that stand we lost our $1.5 million year funding and our assets will be expropriated ($15 million),” the president of the Delta Hospice Society Board, Angelina Ireland, told True North. 

“We will continue our palliative care support services like we have always done. We just lose our clinical operations. As we are being evicted from our own buildings we will have to find alternative premises to operate those services from.”

Earlier this week, employees at the society were handed layoff notices by their employer. According to Fraser Health, all unionized staff at the society have been offered a chance to relocate to another place of employment if they choose to do so. 

“Fraser Health is working with the appropriate unions to ensure all unionized hospice staff who received layoff notices from the Society will have employment opportunities within Fraser Health should they want them,” said a Fraser Health press release. 

On Friday, it was also announced that Fraser Health will transfer patients housed in the Delta facility to five hospice beds at Mountain View Manor, which will eventually be increased to 10 beds by April 2021.

“To reduce any disruption for patients through this transition period, transfers to the Irene Thomas Hospice (a Delta Hospice Society facility) have been temporarily paused. Any person seeking hospice care between January 11 and February 24, 2021 will be admitted to another hospice. For the duration of the notice period, patients currently at the hospice will continue to receive hospice care services with no interruptions in care,” said the press release. 

According to Ireland, however, this transfer to long-term-care facilities will endanger the patients. 

“With COVID, that happens to be a dangerous place for these vulnerable people,” Ireland told True North. 

An annual report by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam found that 80% of all Canadian coronavirus deaths took place in long-term care facilities. 

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